I am 66 years old and cannot find a job. I retired from teaching 10 years ago, thinking I was done. After two years and serious spending problems, I had to file bankruptcy and fell into a deep, deep depression. Add to that the post-traumatic stress situation following my divorce. I was a wreck. I was broken. I even asked my therapist if I was broken and she did not reply. OK, could I be healed?
I worked as a children's librarian for seven of those years. During my teaching career I excelled. I was special. I had magic. I could hold students' attention (reasonably so). As this librarian, a broken person, I struggled. Some days I excelled. Most days I fell into shock--you know, little children. I never had any or babysat or had any kind of dealings with them. I repeat, it was a struggle.
Add to that a principal who was not pleased with me. I found it profoundly difficult to discard old books. This was a library in need of extreme make-over. I painted all the walls, added rugs all over the place, created little nooks with floor pillows and the rugs, added posters and pictures and maps--all teaching devices. I worked every weekend for six of those seven years and stayed until seven at night many working days. I worked hard, but never could grasp how to work with middle school children until my last year. The odd thing is how much I looked forward to going to work every day.
So, in January of 2012, I turned in my intent to retire. In anticipation of having all the things I bought and brought to make the library eye-candy friendly all discarded, I totally packed it all up and took it home. It's a good thing because my replacement re-did everything! Worse, she discarded half the books in the library and put the paperbacks on the wood shelves. Made me sick, but I had to let it go. It's not my library any more.
What retirement is about is letting go. You're old, you're tired, and you are no longer needed. True or not, that's how I feel. After two months I knew I had made a mistake--not leaving that library, but retiring in general. I needed the money. I've been putting in applications, interviewing, but not asked to be a part of any team. I'm a has-been. I knew it would happen one day, but, you know, you never think TO YOU!
The worst thing, the very worst thing is how retired teachers are treated. I cannot begin to say how hard I worked for 41 years. Preparing lesson plans to teach literature, creating interesting, informative assignments as extended learning, creating meaningful tests, and grading all those papers, homework, tests, essays, and research projects. I was an English teacher, a humanities teacher, fine arts, creative writing, conversational French, teacher of gifted, philosophy teacher, an inspiration to hundreds of students. What happened? Why am I no longer valuable to some employer?
In Louisiana retired teachers cannot be rehired after they retire--it's called double dipping, although a law was passed that in certain cases, following certain stipulations, some retired teachers can be rehired, but at sub pay. I was grandfathered in. Sub pay is so insulting! Even so, I recently agreed to accept that pay, then the principal disappeared with her job. I have no idea what happened because she did not return my call.
I look at those old faces of those old white men being interviewed in Washington as Obama's potential new leaders. How does he recognize their value (his opinion) instead of choosing much younger men OR women.? Then I must ask: Is it me? Am I the problem?
Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)
- *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
- The Odd Women by George Gissing
- The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
- The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
- In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
- *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
- Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
- Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
- Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
- The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
- Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
- Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
- *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- *Ruined by Paula Morris
- Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
- Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
- *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
- Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
- *The Giver by Lois Lowery
- *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski